Tuesday 1st August 2017
3 weeks post surgery! So far so good, no weeping wounds, no skin rejections, all good…..
So as you can see I’m healing really well. Still have a few stitches to dissolve but bruising has gone down and swelling is reducing. I’m still in a lot of pain and soreness. My whole body feels like it’s fallen in stinging nettles which I think is the nerves healing. And I’m still so exhausted – my body just wants me to eat and sleep! ha ha! But all good. I’m hoping I can start to swim again soon!
I’m still wearing my compression knickers, sports bra and compression band – apparently we need to wear all this 24 hours a day for 6 weeks! But to be honest I find it unbearable all the time so it’s all on/off. But by the end of the day or if I go out walking I find I need it otherwise my stomach literally feels like it will explode! I’m being a good patient!
Monday 24th July 2017
Nearly 2 weeks post surgery. I’m managing to walk upright more now and slowing getting back to normal. I still feel like I’ve been used as a boxing bag – especially my ribs, shoulders and hips but as Mr Griffiths said I have had a chunk of my stomach removed, an implant scrapped out and then remoulded so I should expect to feel a little delicate and tired! I am so glad I invested time in swimming and yoga before my surgery as I am sure this has helped me so far. Today Mr Matt Griffiths said I’m doing very well, all looks good, he seemed happy with my progress and healing and I could possibly be back swimming gently within a few weeks! yay! He’s also removed the mesh and has given me the ok to pick at the remaining glue while in the shower! Not due to see him for another 6 weeks unless I am worried. Fingers crossed!
So here are some more pictures of my new body….. I can’t quite get excited yet as I still feel like frankensteins monster but time will tell…..
Monday 17th July 2017
I am home! I’m still in a lot of pain but it’s tolerable. Here are some pics nearly a week after surgery for those of you who like the gruesome stuff! My stomach scar is extensive – hip to hip as Dr Griffiths needed to have as much fat as possible to re stuff the boob once the implant was removed – of course he uses much more technical terms rather than ‘re stuffing’! It’s very tight, swollen and bruised, I can hardly stand straight – the lack of flesh has made this much more difficult in my case. But I’m hoping my recovery will be quick and as we know from having babies skin stretches well.
My new skin suit feels very weird though. I look strange too – I don’t have any stomach contours or rounding, my lady bits have grown upwards and my boobies and been pulled downwards. My belly button has been repositioned too. I feel quite alien at the moment. Time and lots of rest will tell.
In these pics I’m laying down. Basically Mr Griffiths has reopened my original implant scar, removed the implant, strattice, scaring and generally cleaned up. He’s reattached my pec major muscle to my chest wall and sternum – this is the swelling and deformity you can see at the top of the boob. Believe me this hurts a lot! As the blood vessels were connected (they call this the anastomosis site) in the centre of my chest (by my cleavage) it is very sore there too – in fact it even hurts to breath. You have to be very careful not to compromise this area as if the blood connection was lost the skin could die.
With this side view you can see the new boob will need some tweaking and plumping out. When the muscle contracts and swelling goes down it should look less monstrous! At the moment it’s just a relieve to have the implant out.
The extra spots of wounds you can see are the moles I had removed and where I had drains in.
Wednesday 12th July 2017
Monday 10th July 2017
Today we have spent over 4 hours in hospital going through meetings, discussions, paperwork, more blood tests etc etc. Dr Griffiths has agreed to remove a few of my moles – the little circles. And he has drawn all over me ready for surgery! The x-ray is the fat of my stomach he will use to build a small boobie!
Unfortunately after all this we were told that there are no beds. The hospital is in a crisis and I may not get my surgery tomorrow. So I am home to sleep and we need to head back again by 7am tomorrow – Phil will drop me off with my luggage and I will wait – probably a few hours, for a final decision. Fingers crossed as my emotions are in pieces!
Sunday 9th July 2017
I’ve recovered well from the Oophorectomy back in September. I still have occasional nerve type pain and I have some hardened areas around the scars but on the whole all good. Can’t say the same about the hot sweats and immediate full on menopause but hey hum!
So as promised here is a full on ‘before‘ DIEP surgery photo. I have managed to gain weight for surgery – I am nearly 50kg! yay! which I think is nearly 8 stone (apparently I am perfect by medical charts). So I have some tummy flesh to sculpt a new boob which is good. But you can see that the implant side has started to flatten and rise due to capsulation in comparison to the earlier photos. Will post some post ops pics as soon as I am able.
Monday 3rd October 2016
One week later….
As you can see my stomach is still really bloated and sore but it’s starting to go down. I’m putting arnica gel on the bruising to help with healing. Plus I’ve been going on little walks about to reduce the gas and get my energy levels back up again and drinking lots of peppermint tea! I’m going to get the stitches taken out tomorrow as the one to the side is rubbing on everything and getting sore.
I really did not think this op would hurt so much – it’s really knocked me for six! I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach – a lot – not that I’ve ever been punched in the stomach but I imagine this is what it feels like! I just feel very battered – more so than it actually looks. I don’t even feel like going swimming or yoga! All I want to do is sit about and rest – this is so not me! I hope I get better quickly! Will update on state of repair soon x.
Monday 26th September 2016
Today I had a Laparoscopic Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy
This was surgery to removed both my ovaries and tubes. I opted to have this as risk reduction to breast cancer spreading as the ovaries and tubes are made of the same tissue as breast. But more importantly so I didn’t have to continue to have the monthly Zoladex injections to shut my ovaries down and to put me in a post-menopause state which will enable me more options of cancer reducing medication (aromatase inhibitors). I’m lucky and I’ve had my children – it was a ‘no brainer’ as the injections are painful and I would have needed to be on them for years!
This op is done keyhole to help with a quicker recovery after. I had an incision in my belly button where the camera was inserted. Also where the air was put in to blow my stomach up to make it easier for the surgeons to see what they were doing – as you can see my stomach is still very swollen but not as bad as I thought it would be. Then I had another incision on my left side and another one in the centre of my bikini line. All nice and neat from what I can see so far.
They had a good look inside and took lots of pictures. My liver, intestines, womb etc all looked good. My gall bladder was swollen but they think this was because I hadn’t eaten or drank before the op. My ovaries and tubes have been removed and sent to histology but the surgeon said they looked fine as far as he could tell and doesn’t expect any abnormal results. All good. The surgeons kept saying that they wished everyone was as easy to operate on as it didn’t have any fat to cut through! ha ha!
Here are some pics of my internal organs – the top left is my liver, not sure what everything else is. I had to take the pics quickly as I wasn’t really allowed to! Annoying as they are of me!
In these ones you can see my intestines really well. I think the big pink thing is my uterus and the white is my ovaries but I’m not sure. I was only just out from op when they explained what was what and a bit fuzzy!
But omg! When I woke up the pain! I was not prepared for how much I hurt. Not as much as after breast surgery but a lot more that I thought – and more than they thought! I don’t think surgery agrees with me! I had 3 lots of pain meds IV instead of morphine (can’t remember what now but that didn’t work so well), so I had some oramorph (liquid morphine) – this helped but unfortunately makes me feel extremely sick. I had a few doses and had to stop. I’m now just on paracetamol and ibuprofen and in a lot of pain. I really didn’t think keyhole surgery would hurt so much but they explained it’s because I didn’t have much fat, and am slim! I can hardly walk at the moment! My core muscles and stomach hurt more than after having babies! So painful. It’s only day 2 but I’ll let you know how I go with the healing. Good thing is I have no choice but to rest – so movie binge it is!
Monday 2nd May 2016 – Herceptin number 16 out of 18!
So nearly there – such a good feeling – just 2 more to go!
Because the breast cancer I had was HER2+ I can have these injections to help control the growth of cancerous cells – it works by blocking the effects of the protein and encourages the immune system to attack the abnormal cells and help control them. If the cancer came back and was the same HER2+ I would be able to have this again – for the rest of my life or until it didn’t work if need be. It truly is a super drug and I feel so lucky to have been able to tolerate it.
I’m given the Herceptin injection into my thigh (most fat there!). It stings like a lot of angry wasps! Not that I know what that feels like but I know what one sting feels like and it feels like a lot more! My leg ends up very swollen, bruised and painful for a few days. But this time the nurse tried something different. The injection has to be administered very slowly so takes between 5-10 minutes – so this time every minute she moved the injection site – if you look carefully you can see lots of pin pricks. It still stung but not as much I think and the reaction doesn’t seem quite so bad…..not so swollen….
It usually looks like this….
Thursday 4th March – 9 months post surgery
Thought I’d upload some updated pictures so you can see I’ve healed extremely well. There is so little on the internet to compare with but I think it’s looking as good as it could be. Great result from a surgeon’s perspective! I must admit the ‘feel’ isn’t great to say the least – I have nicknamed it ‘rock boob’! And believe me it really is similar to having a rock attached to your chest!
The cording from my lymph dissection has pretty much gone – it’s still tight but I make sure I do my stretches every morning and swim and yoga as much as I am able which helps. This also seems to be helping with my chest muscle which is stretched over the top of the implant to hold it in place. Here’s a diagram to help visualise.
I eat well to help my keep my skin in tip top condition – lots of carrots and veg! I am sure the aloe vera has to take the credit after radiotherapy. But since then I always use a mixture of natural coconut and shea butter oil (sometimes I add a few drops of essential oils) along with the aloe which I put on after every shower – it’s keeping my skin soft and supple and in good condition.
The new boob feels very strange and sits higher and the skin doesn’t move over the implant – it is very rigid. But Dr Chakravorty says my skin is amazing and he still can’t believe I’ve even had radiotherapy! Always a positive! I have been so lucky as I didn’t get any complications after surgery – just tightening from the radiotherapy which is gradually easing, but nothing serious or distorting.
The new boob can still be very sore where the attachments of the strattice mesh are attached to my muscles which make it uncomfortable to wear a bra, but this is continuing to ease slowly too – I continue to yoga and stretch every day to help this. You can also see from the pics my ‘good’ boob still needs dealing with (it has fed 3 babies and not tried to kill me yet!). But I would like it evened up – all under discussion at the moment, but no rush as no surgery until Herceptin is done!
3 months post surgery and new boob is looking good…..
Thursday 6th August
My angled radiation tanning!
Bit sore but not too bad. Has made the scars pinker and it’s quite itchy and just feels like sunburn which I’m used to as that’s the feeling after surgery anyway. There is a risk that some of the skin will stay tinted forever but I’m sure this will fade with time. Been using my aloe vera plants – so cooling and calms the skin.
Thursday 16th July: First Radiotherapy treatment
I have to lay very still in this position – the radiologists line me up exactly using the tattoo dots and co-ordinates. Then the machine lowers over me and around me at various angles to zap my chest area and lymph in my neck. It gets quite close but doesn’t touch. So clever!
Thursday 2nd July: Radiotherapy Planning: Here are some pictures of the CT Scanner – very si-fi!
I had to lay on this. Didn’t take long to get me into position. Then I had to lay very still while they measured me and tattooed 3 tiny dots on me – one either side of my chest and one in the middle – didn’t hurt, bit like an injection. This was so they can line me up every time for treatment. Then took a few minutes for a CT scan just whizzes me through the donut a few times. All done! Totally fine.
Not sure if you can see from this pic but there is a tiny blue/black dot in the dip of my chest – this is the tattoo dot. Also, I find it hilarious when I lay down how my good boob disappears under my left armpit but the new boob just sits upright and doesn’t move!!! So strange! Going to take a while to get used to this – really does feel like a coconut still!
Sunday 28th June: nearly 5 weeks after surgery: healing really well, I’ve been really lucky not to have any infection (so far anyway!). As you can see swelling has gone down considerably which is so much more comfortable as don’t feel I’m going to burst! Arm pit healing well too – in time cording and tightness will heal. Still feels sunburnt and very tingly which is the nerves – this feeling worsens if I do too much and towards the end of each day. Still very difficult to sleep as can’t get comfortable. Attachment area of biomesh – under and to the side of new boob are still very tender. But I suppose most of the healing is going on inside – it’s amazing isn’t it! Thank you Dr Chakravorty. Let’s hope the radiotherapy doesn’t ruin it too much!
Just over 11 weeks post last chemo, look at my hair! I have started using a tiny bit of shampoo on it!! ha ha! Still very easy but so nice to have a covering now. Eyebrows are back and eyelashes growing too! The Herceptin may thin my hair again but hopefully it’ll grow back thick enough not to notice too much. Will take another pic in a months or so.
Tuesday 23rd June 2015: 4 weeks after surgery I have some cording under my arm from the op. This is essentially fibrous scar tissue that will heal on it’s own but because I have to have radiotherapy and a side effect is tightness we need to get this sorted before treatment. I am having physiotherapy to stretch and snap the tissue. This is quite painful but good pain. It is such a relief as my whole right side feels very tight and restricted.
It’s a bit like a mini batwing in my armpit but stretch from across my chest down my right arm.
Here’s a picture – usually your armpit would be smooth – you can see the pull under mine! Very difficult to shave!!!
A few people have asked how exactly the surgery was done. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos to show you, but I have seen some and it really was amazing! If you like that sort of thing. Basically Dr Chakravorty cut a tear drop shape out across my boob and around the nipple. He then needed to separate the breast tissue from my skin as I was having skin preserving. To do this he used a tool to cauterise the tissue – this helped to stop excessive bleeding too. It is important to leave some tissue attached to the skin otherwise the skin would die. Think of it like a tree – the nipple is the tree trunk but under the grass are loads of roots – dig the roots out and then cover the hole back over with the grass! So all scooped out. They washed my insides out with water/saline. X-rayed me while open just to check. Stretched some muscle from my chest wall and attached the biomesh, inserted the implant and sewed me up! Ta da! new boob!
As for the lymph nodes. Similar – small cut in armpit. Stretch the skin (it’s amazing how much our skin stretches! believe me I have seen the picture!), reach in, scoop out killer cancerous lymph, sew back up!
It’s all a bit more complicated than that but I think you may get the idea! Clever eh? Totally fascinates me – I would love to be an assistant in surgery!
11 days after surgery:
No more dressings! Amazing plastic surgery don’t you think? Lots of healing to go as still in quite a bit of pain and very sore. My stretch marks are so noticeable too – think I have a bit of swelling from saroma fluid as feel very stretched! Going to have to be so careful in the sun too – notice my sun tan from yesterday with a factor 30 on! Also, all my wounds from the drains and stitches – Phil says I look like I’ve been shot with a shotgun!
Unveiling of New Boob:
Dr Chakravorty’s art work! I’m very impressed!
All wrapped up!
Stockings to stop blood clots! I have to wear these all the time at the moment! I think they are meant to be below the knee but they are a bit big for me!
Bought my surgical bra tops from Macom, one red to brighten my day and a black one to go with everything! – would highly recommend these as they have no seams to rub – I need to wear these 24 hours a day for weeks to hold everything in place – they are very tight and secure so could use for sports in the future!
Also took some pics of my wrapping from surgery – it’s very tight waterproof sticky tape, then underneath I have the drains sewn in and more dressings etc – this should be coming off on wednesday so we get to see my surgeons artwork. I feel like I’m being set in a plaster cast for a movie or something!
Here are pictures of the drains in case anyone wondered what I have to carry around! – these collect excess fluid after op. And the leg compressors I had to have on to prevent blood clots – they take it in turns to inflate over each calf. Our calf muscles are very important for our circulation as they work as a secondary pump to our heart.
You can’t really see very well but here are the pictures of the old and new mammograms – the cancer has shrunk to almost nothing! Brilliant boobie!
You can see the markers (the bright white hook things) and if you look carefully you can see a mass of darker white stuff – this was the cancer cells – like a galaxy. They think that the original duct cancer somehow escaped from the duct and mutated and spread to the lymph but seems to have almost disappeared! So was worth the horrid chemo. Still have to have op but makes it much more promising that they can get all the cells now.
Bit red and inflamed but otherwise ok. The bottom left picture is of the pollop in my stomach.
Bruising from core biopsies:
I had 2 lots of core biopsies – with the help of ultra sound they can insert a needle with a tiny grabber (Phil said it looked a bit like a screwdriver!) to take samples of the tissue they need to test. You have to stay really still. I also had a core biopsy done with the computer and mammogram machine.
This really really hurt as I was so anxious the 3 anethestics didn’t work so I felt everything!
I don’t usually bruise easily! Ouch!